I'm a beginner in English, and I have a question. When do we use the verbal noun of some words (Like "Charge") that are both nouns and verbs?

For example, what is difference between "Battery charge efficiency" and "Battery charging efficiency"?

Thanks a lot for your answers, but I ask a question about "verbal noun", not about "battery charge".

Can you say, what is the difference between "This bad drawing of a dog is not acceptable for your project" and "This bad draw of a dog is not acceptable for your project"? I asked this question here: What is the difference between two sentences?


4 Answers 4


Gerunds (or verbal nouns) look like present participles, but they function as nouns. A gerund can be the subject of a sentence, an object, the object of a preposition, a subject complement, or the complement of a possessive adjective. Gerunds can answer the question what.

Now, let's start with your second question:

Can you say, what is the difference between "This bad drawing of a dog is not acceptable for your project" and "This bad draw of a dog is not acceptable for your project"?

First, drawing is not a gerund in your example sentence. It is a just a regular noun.

This sentence contains a gerund:

Drawing is fun.

To answer your second question: the first sentence is correct, but the second sentence is not. A "draw" is not a picture.

On to your first question, which is more complex:

You have asked when we should use a gerund inside a compound noun vs a regular noun. Right. Let's look at examples and compare them:

battery charging efficiency

battery charge efficiency

Regrettably, your uncle knows nothing about battery charging efficiency.

(how to charge batteries efficiently--the process)

However, your aunt knows a lot about battery charge efficiency.

(facts about the efficiency of battery charges)

Notice that these are two very different things: battery charging efficiency and battery charge efficiency. Tᴚoɯɐuo rightly says that the gerund describes a process and "contains a tad more information".


Clarity can be a deciding factor in such stylistic choices. They're both grammatical.

The process whereby a battery stores up energy which is being supplied to it is better expressed by the -ing form of the verb, which denotes the ongoing or continuous. But in a text, charge efficiency, once defined, or once its meaning has been made clear in context, could serve more or less equally well as a name for this process.

charging contains a tad more information than charge does. But it is often the case, especially in technical contexts, that a "static" label is preferred over a descriptive noun phrase that can also serve as a label.

Another consideration is whether these terms are well-established in a particular domain. This list might not be definitive; I'm only citing it as an example. On that list, the label charge efficiency is preferred.


Think of these words in terms of actions or things.

Running is an action. A run is a thing that you did - a thing that exists in the past tense, that you can tell me about (I did it in 5 minutes, etc.).

Charging is an action. A charge is a thing that was done. You charged that battery. The battery now has a charge that you can tell me about (it has a 98% charge, it will have a 70% charge in a couple of days, etc.).

I went running. I ran, and now I am tired. Let me tell you about my run.

I charged my battery. The battery charging efficiency of my charger is pretty lame. My battery now has a full charge, though. (The battery charging [action] efficiency [thing] of my...)

By the way, I broke a glass in the hotel and they charged me for it. (They took action and charged me for it.)


There is no such thing as a "verbal noun".

There are some words that can function as both a verb and as a noun. "Charge" is an example of such a word. In the context of a sentence each word has its function. The function of a word is determined mostly by syntax, partly by meaning.

So if you say "Charge the battery!" we recognise the verb "charge" since the noun "charge" wouldn't make much sense in that position. But if you say "The battery's charge has gone" we have to understand the word "charge" as a noun.

Similarly, "draw" has both verbal and nominal meanings. The noun "a draw" means "a raffle". The verb "to draw" has lots of meanings. Some of the meanings of "to draw" are related to the noun (to draw lots) some are not ("to draw a picture") But again, the meaning and function are understood by syntax and context.

It is possible to craft sentences that illustrate how we parse sentences from context. The word "fly" is both a noun and a verb, "like" is verb and a preposition. This means that the sentences:

Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.

are initially confusing, but it doesn't take one long to realise the "flies" in the first sentence is a verb and in the second is a noun.

Now we use the word that we need to use. The word "charge" has a certain meaning as a noun. When I want to use that noun I use it. It doesn't matter that the word also has other meanings. We use a "verbal noun" when the meaning of that word is the meaning that we want.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .